Tag Archives: Spirituality

James Finley: A Conversation on the Spirituality of Silence (Part Two)

In today’s episode, the hosts of Encountering Silence speak with contemplative teacher James Finley, following his reflection on the spirituality of silence which we released last week as episode #62. If you have not yet listened to episode 62, we encourage you to do so before listening to this episode — click here to listen to it.

“I don’t know how to listen. I think I’m afraid to listen. Because listening implies an act of trust. When I get quiet, the voices of pain come up inside of me and drown me out. Thomas Merton said, ‘We live in a world that has forgotten how to listen.’” — James Finley

To lead us into his reflections on silence, James offers different ways of understanding silence that he first learned from a Jesuit priest/Zen sensei; then takes us through a thoughtful commentary on the ancient monastic practice of lectio divina. He reflects on the importance of listening — both in the spiritual life as well as in ordinary human wellness.

If you’d like to hear James Finley’s first episode with Encountering Silence, follow this link: Silence and Vulnerability.

“Everything said in this monastery should come out of silence, and its fruit should be to deepen the silence… We should never forget that all of  our noise comes out of silence and is very quickly returning to it.” — Thomas Merton, as quoted by James Finley

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

“How do we contemplatively listen to the evening news? How can I be contemplatively present to the complexities and challenges of the real world?”  — James Finley

Episode 63: A Conversation on the Spirituality of Silence: with James Finley
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Kevin Johnson, Carl McColman
Guest: James Finley
Date Recorded: April 18, 2019

James Finley: Reflections on the Spirituality of Silence (Part One)

Contemplative author, teacher, retreat leader, and psychologist James Finley returns to the Encountering Silence podcast this week. At James’s suggestion, when we recorded this episode we began by giving him the opportunity to share his own reflections on the spirituality of silence. After he finished this presentation, we engaged in a time of shared dialogue in response to his reflections. This week’s episode consists of James Finley’s reflections; next week’s episode includes our dialogue in response to his talk. Click here to listen to part two.

“The poet cannot make the poem happen, but the poet can assume the inner stance that offers the least resistance to the gift of the poem… lovers cannot force the oceanic oneness, but can assume the inner stance that offers the least resistance to the gift of that.” — James Finley

To lead us into his reflections on silence, James offers different ways of understanding silence that he first learned from a Jesuit priest/Zen sensei; then takes us through a thoughtful commentary on the ancient monastic practice of lectio divina. He reflects on the importance of listening — both in the spiritual life as well as in ordinary human wellness.

If you’d like to hear James Finley’s first episode with Encountering Silence, follow this link: Silence and Vulnerability.

“Can I become so silent that I can hear God speaking me into being, all things into being, the divinity or the holiness, the virginal newness of all things?” — James Finley

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

“The mystic isn’t someone who says ‘listen to what I’ve experienced,’ the mystic says ‘look what love’s done to me.'”  — James Finley

Episode 62: Reflections on the Spirituality of Silence: A Talk by James Finley (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: James Finley
Date Recorded: April 18, 2019

“Our listening is an echo of God’s eternal listening to us. We might say poetically, that God says to us, ‘I created you to have someone to listen to, because I just love it when you talk to me like this. And my listening, I created in my heart an echo of my eternal listening to you, so that each unto each, the listening and the word, unites in a kind of union.” — James Finley

Therese Taylor-Stinson: Silence, Contemplation, and Justice (Part Two)

This episode concludes our two-part conversation with author and spiritual director Therese Taylor-Stinson, the founder of the Spiritual Directors of Color Network. To listen to part one, please click here.

“All contemplation should be followed by action; they are there for one another. The reason to contemplate anything would be to have clarity about what action to take next.” — Therese Taylor-Stinson

Therese Taylor-Stinson is the co-editor of Embodied Spirits: Stories of Spiritual Directors of Color, and the editor of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around — Stories of Contemplation and Justice. She is an ordained deacon and elder in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), a lay pastoral caregiver, and a graduate of and an associate faculty member of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, where she previously served as a member of the board.

She is the founder of the Spiritual Directors of Color Network, an international, ecumenical/interfaith association of persons of color with a ministry of spiritual accompaniment. A native of Washington DC, she now lives in Maryland. Her ministry, like her books, explores the intersection of contemplative spirituality and the ongoing struggle for social justice and the dismantling of racism.

“Trauma doesn’t have to be something physical, where a bone is broken or blood is seen or anything like that. Anything that silences you and keeps you from defending yourself against something coming against you is trauma.” — Therese Taylor-Stinson

In this week’s episode, Therese builds on our previous conversation by exploration the relationship between silence and trauma, talking about how the science of epigenetics has revealed how trauma effects people over generations. She also invites us to explore the question of how contemplation can be misused as a way of hiding from the problems facing our world — but how it can also be a meaningful way for people to awaken to what is real and what needs our collective attention.

Acknowledging the painful links between Christianity, racism, and white supremacy, Therese offers a word of hope — that we do not need to be shaped by the mistakes of the past, but can work together in pursuit of true justice and reconciliation for today and tomorrow. Comparing the struggle against racism to a relay race, she hopes that the steps that we take today can help to make the world a better place for our grandchildren.

To learn more about the Spiritual Directors of Color Network, visit www.sdcnetwork.org.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 61: Silence, Contemplation, and Justice: A Conversation with Therese Taylor-Stinson (Part Two)
Hosted by: Carl McColman
With: Cassidy Hall, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Therese Taylor-Stinson
Date Recorded: March 25, 2019

 

Mary Margaret Funk, OSB: Silence Matters, Part Two (Episode 53)

Today’s episode is part two of a two-part interview. Click here to listen to part one.

Sr. Mary Margaret Funk, OSB continues her conversation with Cassidy, recorded at Sr. Meg’s monastery in Beech Grove, IN. Toward the end of the conversation, Kevin, Carl (and Carl’s wife, Fran) joined the conversation via Skype.

“In Mepkin Abbey we all have to drink our coffee together… you can’t take your coffee cup to your room…  the first day I resented it, I said ‘nobody messes with my coffee’… the second day, I just sat there and drank the coffee; the third day, I actually listened to the birds wake up, the third day I noticed who also was in the room; the fourth day I actually tasted silence, and I brought that back home with me.” — Mary Margaret Funk, OSB

She reflects on how Jesus represents a path from violence to healing, plays more music on her recorders, muses on the best practice for interreligious dialogue (“practice your own faith and understand others”), and leads Cassidy on an exercise for training attentiveness.

Kevin and Carl ask Sr. Meg additional questions about interspiritual practice, on cultivating an “ethos of silence” in the church, and how to best teach the practice of silence in our time — particularly the question of contemplative teaching online.

Sr. Meg rounds out her conversation with a wonderful description of “five cups of coffee” that illustrate her encounter with silence and the presence of God. Don’t miss it!

“If I could put what I believe about God in fewer than 200 words, it would be this: Jesus is the way for us to shift from violence to healing…” — Mary Margaret Funk, OSB

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 53: Silence Matters: A Conversation with Sr. Mary Margaret Funk, OSB (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Kevin Johnson, Carl McColman
Special Guest: Fran McColman
Guest: Mary Margaret Funk, OSB
Date Recorded: February 5, 2019

Mary Margaret Funk, OSB: Silence Matters, Part One (Episode 52)

Mary Margaret Funk, OSB, is a member of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana. She entered this Benedictine community in 1961 and served as the prioress from 1985 to 1993. In 1994 Sister Meg became the Executive Director of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue Board. She has been in formal dialogue with people of the Hindu, Zen Buddhist, Islamic, Confucian, and Taoist traditions.

Sr. Meg chats with Fran, Carl and Kevin via Skype.

She holds graduate degrees from Catholic University (1973) and Indiana University (1979). She is a graduate of Epiphany Certification Program of Formative Spirituality (2002). She received a grant from the Lilly Foundation to explore the history of Christian spirituality and its ongoing relevant to women religious today.

“Music is the closest thing there is to silence, actually; it’s a way to taste silence.” — Sister Mary Margaret Funk, OSB

Sr. Meg is the author of numerous books, including the “Matters Series” books on traditional Christian spirituality: Thoughts Matter: Discovering the Spiritual JourneyTools Matter: Beginning the Spiritual JourneyHumility Matters: Toward Purity of HeartLectio Matters: Before the Burning Bush, and Discernment Matters: Listening with the Ear of the Heart. Her other books include Renouncing Violence: Practice from the Monastic Tradition and Islam Is: An Experience of Dialogue and Devotion.

Our Lady of Grace Monastery

When we approached Sister Meg to invite her to join our conversation on silence, we were delighted to learn that her monastery is only a short drive from Cassidy’s new home in Indiana! So this episode was recorded by Cassidy in person at the music room of Our Lady of Grace Monastery. In part two of this interview, Kevin and Carl — and Carl’s wife, Fran — joined the conversation via Skype.

“Solitude gives you a house in which to be silent.” — Sister Mary Margaret Funk, OSB

Sr. Meg is a gifted teacher, and our conversation quickly turned into a lesson in spiritual history and practice. Using the themes of her books as an organizing principle, Sr. Meg skillfully explained the central role that silence plays to Benedictine spirituality — and indeed to Christian spirituality as a whole. And while her insights dove deep into her “home tradition” of Christian spirituality, her years of insight into interreligious dialogue added a richness and depth to her reflections on how Christians and persons of other faiths can learn from one another — and how honoring the integrity of their own traditions enhances interfaith dialogue.

Sr. Meg playing the recorder

As if all this weren’t enough, Sr. Meg is also an amateur musician, and played several tunes for us on her tenor and alto recorders! She now has the distinction of being our first guest to explore silence not only with her words, but with her music as well.

Today’s episode is part one of a two-part interview. Click here to listen to part two.

“Everybody knows what violence is, but they don’t know what renouncing is.” — Sister Mary Margaret Funk

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Episode 52: Silence Matters: A Conversation with Sr. Mary Margaret Funk, OSB (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
Guest: Mary Margaret Funk, OSB
Date Recorded: February 5, 2019

Richard Rohr in Conversation with Cassidy Hall (Episode 46)

Richard Rohr sat down with Cassidy Hall in Chicago last month, at the conference “‘Disappear from View’? Thomas Merton, Fifty Years Later and Beyond” which commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of Merton’s death.

If I had to choose between music and silence, I’d always choose silence. — Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

In this informal chat, Fr. Richard and Cassidy reflect on why Merton remains so important a half century after his passing, along with insights into Fr. Richard’s sense of hope in our time (spoiler alert: he’s impressed with young people today), his thoughts on how Christianity in America has (and has not) been faithful to the teachings of Jesus over the past few decades, thoughts about his own work and legacy, and much more!

There’s so much creativity in the way we love people and the way we serve people. — Cassidy Hall

Listeners of this podcast will recall that we first spoke with Fr. Richard Rohr last spring — that conversation was released as Episode 19.

We’re all victims of our own culture. — Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

This is a field recording (made in the lobby of Fr. Richard’s hotel!) and so there’s plenty of background ambient noise — ironic, we know, for a podcast about silence! But we hope that listeners will appreciate this wonderful moment when Fr. Richard spoke with Cassidy in a truly relaxed and candid way.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Some of Richard Rohr’s other books include:

Episode 46: Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM in Conversation with Cassidy Hall in Chicago
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
Guest: Father Richard Rohr, OFM
Date Recorded: December 7, 2018